Thursday, December 4, 2014

Online Resources for Your Loyalist Research Project

When trying to research your Loyalist ancestors the challenge is locating those key records. It is even harder when you live a distance from that archive, museum, or library (You have checked the online resources of that library near where your Loyalist lived?) that holds a copy of the files you desperately want to read. Fortunately with the Internet it is a little bit easier (although still a challenge).

One thing to keep in mind are the following guidelines as to what defines a Loyalist:

  • Either male or female, as of 19 April 1775, a resident of the American colonies, and joined the Royal Standard prior to the Treaty of Separation of 1783, or otherwise demonstrated loyalty to the Crown, and settled in territory remaining under the rule of the Crown; or
  • a soldier who served in an American Loyalist Regiment and was disbanded in Canada; or
  • a member of the Six Nations of either the Grand River or the Bay of Quinte Reserve who is descended from one whose migration was similar to that of other Loyalists.

Here are just some of the online resources I use:

United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada

  • List of Branches - Often the best place to ask for assistance is either the nearer branch of UELAC or the branch closest to where your Loyalist settled.
  • Loyalist Directory - Besides just the list of known Loyalists and whether someone has proven their descent from that specific Loyalist you may also periodically come across the actual application form that was submitted (like what I sent in for proving my descent from Lt. Caleb Howe of the Queens Rangers).

Ancestry ($)

Library and Archives Canada

LAC has a page describing the various fonds available both onsite and online that can aid in locating information on your Loyalist Ancestor. The following online collections may save you a trip to Ottawa (although it is a very nice city if I do say so myself).

Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

"Wallace Hale's Fort Havoc" collections are an amazing set of documents compiled by R. Wallace Hale that he has made available via the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick web site. Of particular interest to Loyalist researchers are the following starting pages:

Nova Scotia Archives

Until 1874 Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were one colony. New Brunswick was split off from Nova Scotia when the large influx of Loyalists leaving the thirteen colonies of what became the United States of America when the British lost the war and many of those Loyalists settled in Parrtown. If you have any New Brunswick Loyalist ancestors then checking the records at the Nova Scotia Archives needs to be done.
  • Nova Scotia Land Papers 1765-1800 - Volumes 1-25, the surviving records from 1765 to 1800, have been indexed and made available online. The searchable index contains 11,464 names of people who received land in the province during that time period.


New Brunswick, County Deed Registry Books, 1780-1930 - This unindexed collection of the New Brunswick County Deed Registry Books includes not only the usual land records of the settlers of New Brunswick (before 1784 New Brunswick was a county of the Colony of Nova Scotia) but also a listing of those that drew lots in Parrtown (later Saint John). The same list, although with some more details, can be found in Dr. Esther Clark Wright's book "The Loyalists of New Brunswick". You can find some instructions for looking through this collection in my post "Expecting only Deeds and Mortgages? How About a Will?"

Internet Archive

This is one of those great resources that just keeps on giving. Here you will find many out of copyright books that have been digitized for preservation. Just search for the keyword "Loyalists" or "Loyalist" and you will come across articles that may be only 2 pages in length to books with over 600 pages. You can read the articles and books on line or you can save them to your computer in PDF (and sometimes EPUB or Kindle) formats. Here is just a very small sample of what can be found:

Usually if I find a mention of an older book in an article on Loyalists I will see if it has been digitized and made available either through Google Books or the Internet Archive.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing all this. It will be very helpful, I think. It's starting to look like I have loyalist ancestors. I wanted to tell you that I’ve included your post in my NoteWorthy Reads post for this week: